Tag Archives: activism

Invite List of the Men’s March

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Protestors in Flagstaff, AZ, Winter of 2009, who just so totally accepted (without complaint or whiny over-dramatic public display) the election of Obama, courtesy of Lost Compass Photography.

To begin with, organizers would disagree about who to invite. Percolating through social media spontaneity, the Men’s March would draw folks who (apparently unable to cope with the emotions they felt at the sight of women moving forward in a linear direction expressing a desire to not be assaulted) would want to band together and reclaim their long-lost manhood.

Robert Bly would be there of course, but because Manly Men © have been defunding the humanities for so long, nobody would actually know who he was, and he would sit in a corner shirtless beating a drum, alone.

There would be a substantial debate about inviting women. Sarah Palin, Kellyanne Conway, Michelle Bachman, and other female meninist allies would show up, but would be accused by a few marchers of preventing men from enjoying their bro-friendly safe spaces.

Glenn Beck would show up and, within ten minutes, begin crying. Even though his tears would be patriotic and cowboy-like, a few hardliners would dismiss him. Attempting to recover their lost ideal manly hair-sweat manhood, organizers would publicly invite Nick Offerman, only to realize that he attended the Women’s March, thus disqualifying him. Organizers would desperately tag alt-righters with questions about which men they would invite to help recover America’s manly bearded manhood.

Ernest Hemingway? dead. Evel Knievel? dead. Charlton Heston? dead. John Wayne? dead. David Foster Wallace? dead. Elvis Presley? probably dead. George Washington? very dead. Freddie Mercury? queer and dead. Muhammad Ali? Muslim pacifist and dead. Johnny Cash? advocated for Native Americans too often and dead. Roger Goodell? too many penalties. Nick Offerman? feminist. Robert Bly? poet. Clint Eastwood? old Hollywood elite. JFK? dead cuck. John McCain? living cuck. Mike McCarthy? did you even see the Falcons game? All the oldschool manly male beer-stained men would be either dead or somehow disqualified. Organizers would realize this too late, but could easily tweet photos of the Women’s March and call it the Men’s March as a convenient alternative.

In the end, the number of men fitting the standard would be thirty-seven. Those in attendance would chant about being persecuted by society’s trends, like all the feminists not in congress, not passing laws requiring men to father children even if they don’t want to. They would complain about the woman who is not President and who was never recorded bragging about grabbing men by the purifier. Marchers would lament their dead sense of manhood in a prolonged circle-jerk of one another’s angst (but not in a fun way).

There would be many issues marchers would not discuss. Mike Pence would not mention mental illness among men or alcoholism or drug abuse. Franklin Graham would not mention institutional poverty or suicide rates among men, boys, and gay youths in particular. Piers Morgan would not bring up the consequences of concussions for football players or the fact that male rape victims tend not to be taken seriously. From the start organizers would be unconcerned with men as a totality. They would not care enough to lobby for men who are gay, foreign, disabled, or suffering a mental illness. Instead, they would see only themselves reflected in a wilderness of mirrors as they marched, self-consciously alone.

-jk

Writers and the Easter Rising

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Arbour Hill, Dublin, where Patrick Pearse and other leaders of the Easter Rising are buried.

One hundred years ago today in Dublin, an Irish writer named Patrick Pearse stood on the steps of the General Post Office and read aloud the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on behalf of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, while revolutionary groups like the IRB and the women’s nationalist organization Cumann na mBan occupied Dublin and other locations in Ireland. Many of the revolutionaries were intellectuals, socialists, writers, stemming from different backgrounds; Patrick Pearse was a playwright and poet. Their goals included workers’ rights and women’s rights, alongside concerns that Britain would implement a military draft in Ireland to supplement its effort in the First World War. In the following week, known as the Easter Rising, the British responded as they often have when a colony declares independence: with excessive military force, which devastated Dublin and the rising’s core membership.

In the wake of the Rising, the British rounded up, arrested, and executed many of the rebellion’s leaders. Within a few weeks, the British executed much of Ireland’s intellectual community. Remaining leaders, such as Eamon de Valera, would go on to lead a more conservative Ireland, almost erasing the role of women and workers in the Irish Revolution from Ireland’s historical memory.

Patrick Pearse was executed on May 3. He joined what he believed was a just cause, and saw his responsibility not in writing, but in direct action, alongside other Irish writers, including the poet Joseph Plunkett.

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Thoor Ballylee

The poet William Butler Yeats felt differently. He sympathized with the IRB, but distanced himself from it before the Easter Rising. Some time after the Rising, he purchased a castle called Thoor Ballylee in rural western Ireland, where he placed himself both literally and figuratively above what would become the Irish War for Independence, Partition, and Civil War.

James Joyce had already relocated to the Continent, leaving Ireland behind physically but not artistically. Sean O’Casey, an Irish playwright, did not participate in the Easter Rising but would continue to write plays through the revolutionary period. While not all who participated in the Rising were executed, Britain’s heavy-handed response resulted in the deaths of numerous Irish writers, leaders, and thinkers. Meanwhile, writers who refused to participate allowed themselves more years to write, and therefore critique and contribute.

What is the role of writers in social change? In social upheaval? The Easter Rising may be an extreme example, but so was the American Revolution. What is a writer’s responsibility to a cause? It requires humility to surrender oneself to an active political movement, and a vast ego to situate oneself above the fray. But direct involvement is risky, and with the loss of intelligentsia comes the kind of one-sided leadership de Valera seemed to emphasize in the 1940s and 1950s when he found himself in charge of Ireland. Many American thinkers today threaten to leave the country if this or that candidate is elected president, but doing so abandons those Americans who cannot afford to leave to potentially brutal leadership that is suddenly without domestic criticism.

I try to be an activist, but I’m the first to admit I’m not very good at it, and that’s mostly because I can easily stop. If I wanted to, I could afford to escape into a pleasant countryside and write from afar; or I could join an activist group on the streets. I wish I knew which I would choose. All I know is that I admire Patrick Pearse’s bravery and humility in putting writing on hold for what he saw as a more admirable calling.

-jk